Private Schools May Not Be The Alternative To Woke Public Schools

By Jan Greenhawk

September 20, 2023

This article originally appeared on the website

I was a public-school teacher.

I sent my two kids to private school for eight years and then had them finish the last four in the local public high school.

I chose a private school for my children because I was seeing so many things going on in the local public schools that would keep my kids from getting the education basics I knew they needed to have a successful life.

When my husband and I made that decision it was more a matter of overcrowded classrooms, whole language reading, and a disregard for tried-and-true, sound instruction. And, by the way, what was taught wasn’t decided by the teachers, it was the whims of the administration in our district at that time.

I’ve never regretted that choice.

I had no idea that public schools would be invaded by insanity in the twenty plus years later. Throughout the pandemic, the public schools ran slipshod over the needs of their students, shut schools down and moved to hastily prepared “virtual” learning, mandated that students sit for 8 hours a day (if you include bus rides to and from school) in unhealthy and mentally cruel masks, allowed non-medical personnel to illegally test and quarantine kids, and usurped the rights and responsibilities of the parents.

I had no idea that school curriculums would turn away from content knowledge and skills and turn to dividing students by race and confusing them about gender. I had no idea that pornographic material would be on the shelves of school libraries and schools would fight to keep them there.

And now, the madness continues while state test scores stagnate or drop. Now kids can be counseled that they are not the gender they think they are by school personnel who keeps this info from parents. Some states openly state that parents should be kept from knowing the struggles their children are suffering.

After being called terrorists for speaking up at Board of Education meetings, parents have decided enough is enough. Many have decided to head for private schools where they anticipate more input and control over what is taught, better discipline, more focus on academic achievement and less inclination to cave to useless Covid measures and wild activist programs and teachers.

Pre-plandemic, there were roughly 50.8 million students enrolled in public schools and only about 5.8 million in private schools. Many parents thought the public schools were doing a fine job with their children. At the very least, they couldn’t see how there was a big enough difference between public and private school education to justify the average private/parochical school tuition of $11,000 a year investment, especially when local taxes that those parents pay support the public school system in their area.

In fact, many private/parochial schools were losing ground in attendance to public schools.

Suddenly, with the pandemic, private/parochial schools started to gain ground. They started offering more financial assistance to parents, hoping to capitalize on the sudden interest from the public. They knew that if they could get the kids in the door, follow through on parents’ hopes for a strong education and disciplined environment, and do their job correctly, those students and families would be more likely to stay. In some more highly priced schools, 75% reduction in tuition was offered.

In 2020, upwards of three million students were suddenly absent from public schools. Half a million of them were kindergarten children whose parents did not want their non-reading children chained to virtual learning. In the Fall of 2021, an additional 1. 5 million joined the others in the public-school exodus. (2)

Seeing the trend, private school administrators, who tend to view the parents of their students as customers, were busy talking to parents, accepting their input, trying to make sure they were meeting their needs.

But, like so many who can’t sustain a good, successful model, it seems as though the private/parochial schools are starting to work REALLY hard to kill their golden goose.

It started with the local parochial school attempting a mask mandate. No one is quite sure, but rumor had it that threats had been made from the public sector that they would release a story that Catholic Schools didn’t care about the safety of their students. Say what you want about the public schools, but they weren’t going down without a fight. It worked.

The Archdiocese caved, much to the dismay of the parents who had already signed enrollment contracts. On top of that, parents found that their kids were being subjected to the same classroom bully tactics regarding the vaccine from Covid Cultist teachers as public-school students. Sometimes they were asked to raise their hands if they had been vaccinated so teachers could point out and publicly shame those who weren’t. Other times the teacher virtue signaled her achievement of getting stuck with an injection that is neither safe nor effective and then placed a big old value judgement on those who hadn’t. There were videos shown in class from CNN promoting the vaccines.

And let’s not even discuss the school “medical” staff who found it necessary to “quarantine” cupcakes brought in for student birthday celebrations just in case Covid was lurking in the icing. (I must admit, it is a clever way to get extra snacks if the staff wants them.)

In fairness, when enough parents complained, these practices stopped, at least temporarily.

Other private schools in the area did equally stupid things. One parent was threatened with their child being removed from her school because the parent spoke out about mask and vaccine mandates in a meeting.

Schools were promoting overt racism and instruction in sexual preferences in their classrooms too. It didn’t matter what parents paid; they still got a hidden agenda. That local school my kids once went to? The headmistress listed her “preferred pronouns” at the bottom of her emails and referred in a meeting to the population of our area with the characterization of us being stupid and backward. Seriously? What a difference 20 years makes.

Imagine writing a check for $16,000 a year for THAT! There are more examples.

For one, there is this story from a parent whose child attends an exclusive parochial school outside Baltimore:

EXCLUSIVE: Private Catholic School Quietly Introduces Social Justice Course, ‘Disguised as Religion Class,’ Required for Graduation | The Epoch Times

The parent in this story discovered that “social justice” i.e. CRT, and some vague gender ideology was being taught in a required class but was being billed as a religious class. Here are some excerpts from the story in Epoch Times:

“My daughter came home yesterday and said she was confused,” she recalled. “When I asked her to show me what confused her, she wouldn’t show me. That’s because she knows it’s something I won’t want to see. You shouldn’t want to hide things from your parents.”

The parent did not disclose her name because she feared for retaliation. She goes on in the article to describe the ambiguous grading practices of the course and some of the troubling discussion topics. Also from the Epoch Times:

Michelle Christman, a JC alumnus and 2022 candidate for state senator, says she isn’t a fan of “social justice warrior programs.”

She also doesn’t like that the school appears to be hiding things from parents.

“The school needs to be transparent,” she told The Epoch Times. “When you’re talking about a private school, a parent is paying for that. There needs to be clarity as to what is being taught. Especially in today’s day and age.

“We are absolutely seeing what these social justice warrior programs have done. They’re taking the United States’ history and sweeping it under the rug. Children don’t even understand what freedom is, or what’s in the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights.”

Ms. Christman is also alarmed that parents such as Mrs. Fletcher are reticent to come forward publicly.

John Carroll High School charges $20,000 a year for children to get a “Catholic” education.

Parents whose children are enrolled at Salisbury School in Salisbury, Maryland can relate. The other night at Back to School Night, parents and students were greeted by the following poster in the doorway to a science teacher’s classroom:

Maybe this poster doesn’t bother some, but it is in the doorway to a CHEMISTRY classroom where students are supposed to learn CHEMISTRY, not gender ideology. Perhaps this teacher was trying to show support for LGBTQ+ people, but that is not her job. Her job is to teach chemistry to ALL students.

A student who saw this poster in the doorway to their teacher’s classroom commented that he/she didn’t care about people’s gender or sexual preferences, but he/she just wished teachers would allow kids to learn about the subjects they teach, not some ideological stuff. The student feels uncomfortable constantly having sexual identity and preferences shoved in his/her face.

While this teacher has a right to her private opinion about these issues, it is NOT her right to foist them upon students, especially when the comments on this poster make many students feel uncomfortable and unaccepted. Can an average student who is not LGBTQ+ expect fair treatment from this teacher? Who knows. But, kids will make an assumption that they cannot.

What can a parent do?

Across the country, parents are beginning to sue private schools for breach of contract when those schools teach CRT, DEI, gender ideology.

Parents increasingly sue elite schools for ‘woke’ ideology | Fortune

As the article states, parents generally sign contracts with private schools before handing over anywhere from $16000 to $50000 a year for their child to be enrolled. What happens after that is often subject to change (from Fortune):

When Jerome Eisenberg enrolled his daughter at the Brentwood School in Los Angeles, where Adam Levine met some of his Maroon 5 bandmates, the investment manager says he expected her to get a traditional liberal arts education. 

But after the murder of George Floyd, the $50,000-a-year school said it was reimagining its purpose “with an eye toward anti-racism” and diversity, equity and inclusion, or DEI. In Eisenberg’s view, Brentwood was pulling a “bait and switch” on parents. He sued the school last year for breach of contract, civil rights violations and emotional distress. 

The results of suits have been mixed (from Fortune):

Parents determined to challenge private school teaching and policies face a number of obstacles. Public school parents can argue that the government is infringing on their First Amendment rights by forcing DEI or similar instruction on their children. Parents largely waive those rights when they enroll their kids in private schools. 

“Private schools are bound by their own policies and not the US Constitution,” said Jennifer Rippner, a law lecturer at Indiana University, Bloomington’s School of Education.

When parents do sue private schools, it’s usually for breach of contract, according to New Hampshire education lawyer Linda Johnson, who represents independent schools and consults with them on managing their legal risk. The process sometimes starts off with “a 10-page, single-space letter addressing everything that the parent thought the school did wrong to try to justify a repayment of tuition,” she said.

Many of the disputes arise out of school disciplinary action, Johnson said. In the current environment, that can have political overtones. 

Those parents who don’t win move their children to other schools or homeschooling. But, they can find allies in their cause, groups such as Parents Defending Education and Moms for Liberty. Those groups understand that parents don’t send their children to any school, much less private schools, to have them taught distorted values and causes that don’t align with their parents’.

We have a nation that’s awake now to the rampant educational failure that’s happening in our schools, and the fact that they’ve become indoctrination centers instead of places of learning,” said Moms for Liberty co-founder Tiffany Justice

For now, parents need to be very careful when signing that enrollment contract with a private school. They need to get assurances that their child will get the academic education they will pay for and not indoctrination. And, if that isn’t the case, then they need to be ready to fight back or make a change.

Disclosure: The author of this article is a chapter chair for Moms for Liberty.



Jan Greenhawk

Jan Greenhawk is a former teacher and school administrator for over thirty years. She has two grown children and lives with her husband in Maryland. She also spent over twenty-five years coaching/judging gymnastics and coaching women’s softball.


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Choudhury Moves On

By Jan Greenhawk

September 15, 2023

This article appeared in the

State Superintendent Mohammed Choudhury stated that he will not seek renewal of his contract for another year. This comes after much controversy over Choudhury and his methods and management style during his tenure in charge of Maryland’s Public Schools.

Throughout his time in Maryland, Choudhury has been rude to state legislators in session, faced allegations of workplace harassment of employees, and has threatened to take full control over Maryland School systems and their curriculums. The workplace allegations were based on the reports of 30 plus employees at the State Department of Education.

Former employees complained about Choudhury, saying he created a “toxic” workplace. Local educators who met him on county visits, described him as aloof and arrogant.

He seemed to have little or no influence on improving state test scores despite his being proclaimed a “creative and bold” leader by some. This departure will add to Choudhury’s history of “voluntarily” leaving school districts after short tenures.

In recent months, despite full and undying support from State Board President Clarence Crawford, Choudhury was losing favor with many in power, including Governor Moore who didn’t comment on Choudhury in particular but said in a recent interview, “I want transparency. I want accountability, and I want a superintendent that believes in it and can deliver it. The results we’re seeing right now are not satisfactory results, and I demand better.” That quote seemed a precursor to the end for Choudhury who often sparred with state legislators and the Accountability and Implementation board of the Blueprint for Maryland’s future. It was also a bad omen when the State Board did not renew his contract when they were supposed to in August.

He was also accused of erasing text messages from his government cell phone, which is against the law. His department was accused of hiding test scores of failing schools as well.

It’s unclear as to whether Choudhury will finish his term or leave before the end of his contract in June. There were also no details on when or how the search for a new State Superintendent will being.

State Senate President Bill Ferguson, a former teacher, issued a statement thanking Choudhury for his work “during an unprecedented time of upheaval in education” as schools grappled with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. He also noted Choudhury’s dedication to the goals of the Blueprint.

” It is vital that Maryland’s next superintendent of schools embody the same commitment to improving educational outcomes for all students,” said Ferguson, a Baltimore Democrat who is a former teacher. “Our State’s public schools need a leader who can ensure every child is ready to thrive in a 21st century economy upon graduation.”

Portions of this article were taken from THE BALTIMORE BANNER.

Maryland schools superintendent Mohammed Choudhury won’t seek second term – The Baltimore Banner



Jan Greenhawk

Jan Greenhawk is a former teacher and school administrator for over thirty years. She has two grown children and lives with her husband in Maryland. She also spent over twenty-five years coaching/judging gymnastics and coaching women’s softball.


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Local Governments Are Pushing Back Against Excessive Tax Hikes To Support Maryland Blueprint

By Jan Greenhawk

September 15, 2023

Article originally published at

If you are the Governor of Maryland or a legislator, you may be able to ignore when counties like Caroline, Talbot, Garrett etc. protest state mandated programs. After all, those counties are small and won’t carry much water for your legislative agenda, or even more important, your re-election.

But, when counties like Montgomery, Baltimore, Prince George’s and even Baltimore City start pushing back on huge spending boondoggles like the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, you know you have a problem.

The Blueprint, which is costing counties millions of dollars above their education budgets and increasing property taxes by as much at 10% in some areas, is quickly becoming political and practical poison for those in power in Annapolis especially during a time when the Governor has stated that the State is out of money. Like dominoes, counties across the state are resisting the strain on their budgets and lack of local control.

Projections of the cost of the bill and its unfunded mandates are staggering:

The legislative services department noted in its evaluation of the state’s financial condition that “the cash and structural budget outlook deteriorates…due to the costs of ongoing K-12 education enhancements.” Backers of the Kirwan plan (Blueprint) have often repeated the notion that it will cost $4 billion by 2033. However, the true cost will be more than $4 billion annually. Thus, it will cost the state and local governments more than $40 billion by 2033. This came as a surprise even to Democratic politicians like Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott, who called the cost to the city a “gut punch.” -( Source:Marylanders should get ready for tax hikes –

County executives across the state are pushing back.

From Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich (D):

“We do not have a truly cooperative, interactive relationship, at this point, but nobody does,” Elrich said. “Montgomery County is not unique. You’ll find these kinds of arguments all around the state between county governments and the local school boards. We’re like a money machine but we have no power in how the money gets tapped at some point.”

“The county has no authority,” he said. “We can’t even, for example, look at a budget line item and say we don’t think you should do that program. We’re not going to fund that program and we want you to fund a different program. County has no ability to do that. ”- Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich ( D) Had to raise taxes 10% just for Education.

And, from Howard County:

“I think that there is an important conversation to be had about a county executive and a council or commissioner-based system who have so much funding responsibility and zero ability to actually ensure where those dollars go and that they’re used effectively,”-Calvin Ball, Howard County Executive, (D)

Stuart Pittman, Anne Arundel County Executive:

The question of whether county governments should have greater control over their school districts has been an ongoing conversation for the so-called Big 8 jurisdictions and the Maryland Association of Counties over several months, according to Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman (D).

“I think it’s mostly focused on transparency in budgeting,” he said. “Most of us feel like we don’t have a good sense of what their finances really look like and maybe there’s a more collaborative approach.”

Smaller counties point out that they not only don’t have the funding to support the education excesses required by the Blueprint, for example, the Head of Budget and Management from Carroll County, addressed the Maryland State Board of Education in the Spring and told them that the Blueprint will hurt schools in his district. He stated that the Blueprint will take resources away from schools in Carroll County and put them in schools targeted by the Blueprint. This will cause overcrowded classrooms in those schools that were previously successful.

Calvert County School Superintendent Andrew Townsend said the 10.5% increase in school funding is “unprecedented “and needed to meet the mandates of the Blueprint for Maryland.

State Delegate Jeff Ghrist, whose district includes parts of Caroline, Queen Anne’s, Cecil and Kent Counties has pointed out many times that districts such as the ones he represents can’t possibly meet the physical and staffing requirements of the Blueprint, much less the monetary.

In Talbot, county council members state that they want to have more local control of their education spending since it comprises 42.1% of the county’s yearly budget and drastically impacts taxes in the county. The council had to tack on a 4.8 % education tax supplement onto citizens’ tax bills on top of the taxes already levied. While paying more, citizens will have less input into education spending than ever before.

The pleas for sanity fell on deaf ears with some legislators.

Senate Majority Leader Nancy J. King (D-Montgomery), who chairs two Budget and Taxation subcommittees that deal with education issues, said there is no need to change the current system.

“I would be absolutely, 1000% against that,” King said, adding that Elrich and others lack the experience to make decisions for the school system.

“He needs to do his job and let the school board do their job,” she said.

King, a former school board member, said complaints about lack of oversight amount to “a nice political thing to say.”

“All these people, they want to re-do the budget. They want to re-do how school systems run, it’s like they don’t have enough of their own jobs to do,” she said.

Somebody check King’s hearing, because she isn’t getting the message, especially from the people. Marylanders don’t want expensive, frivolous mandates imposed on their schools particularly when they see miserable state test scores.

Sixty-three percent are against raising taxes to support the Blueprint according to a poll done by the Maryland Public Policy Institute. Forty-eight percent of Democrats and 84% of Republicans are against the spending.

Poll: Voters Don’t Like Higher Taxes to Fund the Kirwan Commission’s Education Plan » Research » Maryland Public Policy Institute (

But, it could just be citizens, like State Senator Nancy King said, ” don’t have enough of their own jobs to do.” You mean, those jobs they hold to make ends meet and pay expensive tax bills in their counties and state, Nancy?You mean the jobs they hold to overcome inflation and put food on the table?

Maybe we should start a “Go Fund Me” to buy Nancy a pair of hearing aids. Do they have them to prevent being tone deaf?

County leaders renew push for oversight on education spending – Maryland Matters



Jan Greenhawk

Jan Greenhawk is a former teacher and school administrator for over thirty years. She has two grown children and lives with her husband in Maryland. She also spent over twenty-five years coaching/judging gymnastics and coaching women’s softball.


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The Secret To Student Achievement? It’s NOT Money

By Jan Greenhawk

This post was published initially on the

September 7, 2023

Every time state test scores are released, the same cry comes up from the educational and political establishment, ” If we had more money, the scores would be better.”

So, when Maryland State scores came out in August, it happened again. Sure, they added the pandemic as part of the excuse, but it still boiled down to money. It didn’t matter which jurisdiction was doing the whining, it was still the same.

Same BS, different year.

Despite the fact that districts are coming off some fairly fat economic years with all the ESSR funding and the new Blueprint coming into effect, there wasn’t enough money to make the scores better.

For example, let’s take a look at the Baltimore City Public Schools. Granted, ESSR II and ESSRIII funds were supposed to be spread out over five school/fiscal years, however, no matter how you look at it, the city got a lot of money. $650 million to be exact. Prince George’s County came in second with $396 million.

On the losing end of the ESSR sweepstakes were counties like Talbot ($14 million), Queen Annes ($10 million), and Worcester Counties ($21 million). Still, a nice windfall.

As for the Blueprint, the funding formula for districts is based on student population. But, some students earn districts more than others. This inequality in funding is based on the concept of “equity.” Students who are English Language Learners, Special Education, or poor cost more money because they need more support or cost the county more.

For example, the base per pupil spending in Maryland Public Schools is $8,310 per student per year. For every K-3 “struggling learner” as defined by the state the county gets an additional $665. A special education student will gain the standard per student expenditure plus $7146.00 (86%) or $15,456. An English Language Learner will gain the standard per student expenditure plus $8310 (100%) or $16,620. Compensatory aid for students who get free lunch is $6232.50.

So, if a county has an ELL, Special Education Student who gets free lunch, they hit the jackpot. You do the math.

These student numbers are determined by September 30th each year. With all that funding per student, one would think our kids would be knocking the socks off state testing. Apparently, those who developed the Blueprint thought that money would be the answer. You be the judge.

Here are the recently released Maryland State Assessment Scores for the Spring of 2023:

The above are the reading scores.

The establishment will crow about how pleased they are with these scores, and how it looks like they are “not quite as bad” as last year. With the exception of the tenth-grade scores, no other grade level had 50% of the students proficient or above. ” Proficient.” Not excellent or great, just proficient. This is out of a four-point scale with the top ranking called “distinguished.” Let me ask you, do you want a merely “proficient” carpenter building your house or a top level, distinguished carpenter, especially if you are paying top dollar?

Even more frightening are the math scores. The State doesn’t even attempt to spin these numbers. They are just bad.

There are only 1-2% of students who are considered distinguished in math. It’s going to be hard to compete internationally with just 1-2% of our population accomplished in what is basic math.

Never fear, however, there are a certain percentage of students who are ” on the cusp of proficiency” meaning that they are “almost there” in both reading and math. The fact that the state felt they needed to report this on a chart on their page shows you that they know these scores are so bad they have to celebrate “almost.”

No parent wants their child to be the “almost there” student. I don’t want bridges build by “almost there” engineers, or the law read by “almost there” judges.

I understand that these scores cannot be turned around in a year. Maybe not even two or three. It took us a long time (and a lot of money) to sink this low and it will take a while for us to dig our way out.

Problem is, we keep skirting the issue with all these ancillary, needless and expensive programs like the Blueprint that waste time and take the decision making out of the hands of the local districts and elected officials. School systems are so tied up funding the Blueprint, there’s no money left for locally designed and effective solutions.

I also question the determination of the education establishment and our government to actually fix this problem. When questioned about schools, particularly those in Baltimore City and how bad they are, Governor Moore deflected from proposing a solution or even a serious answer to the problem. He blamed climate change. Yes, he actually did.

His kids go to private school and so did he.

Truth is, If the problem gets solved, the Unions won’t be able to cry about teachers’ wages and local politicians will not be able to demand more money from taxpayers to “fix the problem.” It’s mediocrity and failure by design, and it is a big money maker.


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Maryland Districts Start Year Understaffed

By Jan Greenhawk

Article originally published on

September 4, 2023

Creative Commons — Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International — CC BY-SA 4.0

With the school year barely a week old in many districts, systems are struggling to staff classrooms.

In an informal survey of certificated openings in fifteen out of the 24 Maryland school districts, there were 473 openings as of 8/30. This doesn’t include positions that may exist in systems which don’t specifically list openings but hide them behind generic job search platforms. It also doesn’t include part time and non-certified classroom staff openings. There are approximately 60,000 certified teachers working in the Maryland’s Public Schools.

Having vacancies this late in the summer is bad for students!

Some districts such as Worcester, Queen Anne, Caroline, Cecil and Garrett have less than ten openings. Others like Baltimore County and Baltimore City, list between 60 and 79 vacancies. The rest are between 28 to 52. Again, this is for certificated classroom teachers only, not support or administrative staff.

Is this normal? Not really. Usually, systems advertise positions by the middle of April. At that point, teachers who wish to leave systems have told their districts, teachers who have not been rehired are looking, and college students in their final year of school are on the hunt for a job. Normally, by the end of July most positions have been filled. There might be one or two hard to fill jobs still being advertised, but that’s it. To have so many positions still unfilled by the end of August is almost unheard of, especially when most Maryland districts started the year on August 29 th.

Teacher shortages have happened before. I remember there were shortages at different points during my career. The Covid pandemic made things worse. Teachers left after the difficulty of the two years of virtual and hybrid learning.

In 2022, over 5,500 teachers left Maryland systems. Forty percent voluntarily resigned. Twenty-five percent left the classroom for other educational positions, particularly administration. Twenty percent retired. The rest were either fired, took a leave of absence, or went into another profession.

Maryland isn’t the only state facing teacher shortages. The map from the U.S. State Education Agencies and ABC below shows that of February 2023, many states are facing the same problem. Altogether, there are 55,000 teacher vacancies across the U.S. There are over 270,000 underqualified positions, meaning that non-certified teachers are filling positions as well as teachers not certified in the area they are currently teaching.

US Teacher Shortage (

Most of the US is dealing with a teaching shortage, but the data isn’t so simple – ABC News (

The problem is growing exponentially as enrollment in teacher education programs is declining drastically.

The Unions tell everyone that teachers leave because teachers’ pay is too low. In reality, teachers talk about poor working conditions, lack of support from administration, burnout, poor morale, and student behavior, especially violence.

What happens when schools are short staffed? The usual answer is that districts fill positions with uncertified substitute teachers. Many of these substitutes have yet to graduate college. However, there is a shortage of substitute teachers as well. The next solution? Increase class sizes beyond what is normal. At the secondary level, districts will cancel elective courses or force teachers to teach out of their content certification.

In some states, there is a new move to shorten the teacher work week.

Schools Take on 4 Day Work Week to Combat Rising Teacher Shortage (

There are many problems with a 4-day school week. What do students and their families do during these days when the students are not in school? In a time when many parents could be working more than one job, students could be spending days home with little or no supervision. Certainly, some families will be able to afford childcare on those days, but many will not.

School days will be longer to make up for the lost time and to fulfill the teachers’ contracts. This will build in wasted time during the day. Studies have shown that during longer school days, the extra time is filled with non-instructional activities thus negating any benefit of being in school longer. This will also negatively impact extracurricular activities such as school sports or the arts.

From personal experience, I can tell you that is true.

Four-day work weeks will also support arguments against increasing teacher pay. The message of opponents is currently that teachers only work ten months out of the year, can you imagine when you take away one day a week during those ten months?

Some states are also fast-tracking teacher education. In Virginia, the Virginia State Board approved a three-year pilot with a company called iTeach:

Alternative Teacher Certification – Online Teaching Certification (

This company promises to train and certify teachers within one year at a very low price. While this may sound great to those trying to fill empty classrooms, many urge caution, saying that the process will yield poorly trained teachers and this, in turn, will hurt students.

Currently, eleven states are using iTeach, including Florida, Virginia, and Arizona.

None of the proposed solutions are good for students. In the long run, they will also burn out teachers and denigrate the profession, thereby exacerbating the shortage.

There are creative solutions that will not hurt students.

First, most systems have a glut of middle management administrators. Many of these staff members are certificated teachers who have left the classroom to work at the central offices and move up in the administrative hierarchy. They work on projects which range from developing curriculum, observing teachers, attending meetings at the local and state level, etc. Put these people back into the classroom, at least temporarily. This will serve two purposes, giving kids a certified teacher and allowing middle level administration to remember what it is like to teach in a classroom with real students instead of theoretical children. This may also give them more credibility among the teaching staff.

Second, recruit retired personnel to come back part time to fill some of the holes. Suspend the rules restricting retired teachers from collecting retirement while taking a check for teaching. These teachers still have the content knowledge and skills to educate our children. While this may only be a temporary solution, it will fill the gap effectively until all positions are filled. Some systems in Maryland are currently doing this, hiring retired teachers as independent contractors to teach in schools.

Third (and our county has implemented something like this), creatively group elementary students and plan secondary classes so that the available staff can rotate in and out of class to provide constant, professional coverage while giving teachers planning time. This takes some creativity in scheduling and grouping.

Fourth, pay available teachers extra to teach classes during their planning time. This will be a contract issue with the union but can probably be overcome with some negotiation. This has been done before with teachers volunteering to do overtime.

These are all short term solutions to the teacher shortage. What are the long term solutions?

While unions will tell you that pay is the main thing discouraging people from teaching, I strongly disagree. Most people go into teaching because they have a mission, a vocation, to help others, particularly children. It’s like being a nurse, firefighter, or a policeman. If you are choosing that profession for financial gain, you are kidding yourself. I was inspired to become a teacher because I wanted kids to be excited about learning how to write and reading great literature. I had teachers who inspired me, so I wanted to be like them.

Teaching is also a profession that allows one to share holidays with family, including summer. It also affords employees a fairly consistent workday. And while taking home student work to grade can be daunting, a smart, organized teacher can get it done during the workday.

As I tell people, teaching isn’t rocket science, just knowledge, patience and a lot of devotion.

I believe the real issues that keep people away from teaching are the issues of working environment. When I started teaching over 40 years ago, schools were very different. Students have always been challenging to work with at times, but I always knew I had authority and control over discipline in my class. I knew that if I established myself as the “adult in the room” and had the backup of administration and parents, discipline would not be an issue.

Today’s teachers don’t have that. They are constantly being told that the students are in charge, that their behavior should be excused. Teachers are told that THEY must not hold students accountable because students may have difficult lives. I’m not saying that a student’s life doesn’t have an influence over his/her behavior, but it’s a teacher’s job to help a student overcome circumstances, not give into or ignore their bad behavior because of them.

And students are much more violent in school than they were ten years ago. This is due in part to recent legislation in Maryland that excuses criminal behavior and violence for any child under 13 years of age. The students know this and take full advantage. Watch a video of someone breaking up a school fight and listen to the students tell teachers that no one can touch them or stop them because of the law.

Teachers are being asked to do too much. Instead of focusing on academics, they are told to be activists, to promote political and ideological ideas. Class time is eaten up by so many things that have NOTHING to do with academics, making it impossible for teachers to teach. So, while students attend school for approximately six to eight hours a day, many teachers report that they lose as much as 50% of instructional time on classroom management/discipline, non-academic activities, irrelevant and administrative disruptions. (The Passionate Learner, Robert Fried)

They’re also told to ignore parents instead of work with them. This not only makes the teacher’s job harder, it alienates the student from their parents. Once that happens, the teacher loses the value of the family to make discipline and teaching easier.

In Maryland, the focus on filling teacher vacancies needs to be changed from weakening the standards to be a teacher to putting more time and money into training teachers in content and classroom management. Instead of fast-tracking teacher education programs, officials need to allow college grads in education programs to spend at least one year as a paid apprentice in a classroom with an experienced master teacher. Money that is currently being spent on additional middle management central office positions and additional Blueprint programs that have no business in schools could be moved to fund these apprenticeships. Research has shown that teachers matter more to student achievement than any other aspect of schooling. ( Why not invest the time and money into developing the best we can?

Finally, teaching needs to be showcased by education schools as a profession for knowledgeable, skillful students, not a throw away job for those who can’t do anything else. Recruiting teachers from other professions helps with that, as it shows how valuable teaching is as compared to the professions they came from. We need to allow the profession to gain respect again. And that means recruiting the best and brightest, not those seeking affirmation and acceptance from students or a place to bide their time until something better comes along.

Many of these ideas have been suggested by teachers for a very long time. But no one, not even their so-called Union, ever listens. The powers that be just keep piling on all the extras while not addressing what really needs to be done. They keep pretending if they add more social workers, more middle management, more program coordinators, that everything will work itself out.

It hasn’t so far and it won’t in the future.


Jan Greenhawk

Jan Greenhawk is a former teacher and school administrator for over thirty years. She has two grown children and lives with her husband in Maryland. She also spent over twenty-five years coaching/judging gymnastics and coaching women’s softball.

Thanks for commenting!!

Gov. Moore Warns Of Coming Financial Discipline In Maryland. Should Counties Say “No” To The Blueprint?

By Jan Greenhawk

August 23, 2023

Article originally published at

Creative Commons — Attribution 4.0 International — CC BY 4.0

Maryland Governor Wes Moore may not remember this phrase often used in stores, ” You broke it, you bought it.” He would do well to think of that phrase as he chastises Maryland locals and citizens that there will have to be “discipline” in spending.

While at the annual MACO (Maryland Association of Counties) Conference, Moore said: “As the old adage goes, ‘When the state catches a cold, local jurisdictions catch the flu,’” Moore said Saturday at his first counties’ conference as governor. “So it won’t be a surprise when I tell you that we’re facing budget shortfalls. He said the state “doesn’t just welcome partnership, we need it,” while noting that officials need to prepare to enter “a new season of challenge for Maryland.”

“It’s going to take the discipline of elected officials at the state and local levels, who commit to a spirit of partnership, even as we face some tough decisions ahead,” Moore said. “And yes, It will take the discipline of the governor — whereas I want to say “Yes” … you are going to hear some ‘No’s.’”

In urging restraint in spending as Maryland approaches 2024, the governor said: “This will be a season of discipline, and our choices must reflect that.” (Quotes Courtesy of The Baltimore Sun)

It’s interesting because when Moore took over from Maryland’s previous Governor, the state had a $5.5 billion surplus. Of course, Moore blames a shrinking state economy for the current deficit. He claims our economy shrank while surrounding states’ economies grew. And he will hold himself and the spendthrift Democrat controlled Legislature blameless.

The Governor offered no ideas for solving the problem, neither cutting spending nor increasing taxes. He does plan to appoint a chief performance officer to monitor government spending efficiency at the state and local levels. A May job posting listed the position’s annual salary range at $126,635 to $153,314. More bureaucracy, more money, and more intrusion on local governance.

The rest of Moore’s speech contained a mix of finger pointing at the previous administration and pie in the sky solutions such as raging wages for workers, huge capital projects and bringing industry to the State. Apparently, he is not aware that citizens have recently been fleeing the state and its cities to escape high taxes and high crime.

For the local official, the county commissioner or council member, the speech must be baffling. While the Governor preaches about cutting expenditures, he supports initiatives that will cost counties and taxpayers billions.

One such initiative is the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future.

As local officials began creating their budgets this year, many faced the added burden of costs associated with the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, an education boondoggle that will cost the State an additional $3.8 billion per year for the next 10 years. It expands access to pre-K and raises teacher pay. It also boosts specific spending on children experiencing poverty. The cost of the plan has been raised by $1.6 billion over the next five years due to an additional 110,000 students in that category1. All of these additions are in conjunction with additional mandates for community schools, school counselors, administrative staff, and teacher training. Are these noble expenditures? Probably. Are they realistic? In many cases no.

Locally, because of the Blueprint, counties such as Talbot find themselves forced into funding education well beyond their means according to their tax revenues. Talbot had an additional $4.1 million in school funding. Baltimore County added $214 million making their education allotment for 2024 $2.58 billion. Montgomery County increased their budget by almost $300 million. This is not Monopoly money, it is real taxpayer funded dollars that can only be generated via higher taxes, despite the illusion the Governor may want to present.

So, if the Governor is truly preaching the idea of being more disciplined, then maybe counties should pick up that idea and run with it.What would happen if a county just said “no?”

I can hear all the county school board members and county council members in the state screaming at this idea. “Why, why we would lose all of our state funds and probably federal funds as well!”

Let’s think about that. In 2021, Talbot County funded approximately 65% of their education budget without State or Federal money. Worcester County funded 73.9%, Montgomery funded 62.8%. In Talbot that means that approximately $44 million or around $10,000 a pupil, was funded locally. In Worcester, this was around $94 million or $15,000 a student. In Montgomery, it was $1.8 billion or $11,000 per pupil.1These three counties, without federal or state funding, would still spend quite a bit of money per student. Of course, when you add in the proportionally lower State and Federal funding, the per student allotment is higher, but not by more than approximately 30%.To be fair, other counties like Caroline, only funded 17.8% or $3000 per child through local money. Those counties have a much larger need for state help. In many ways, they are addicted to it.

Even so, would they be able to forgo State and Federal money if they were no longer encumbered by mandates such as three-year-old and all day four-year-old programs, forced increases in salaries, community schools, additional middle management staff such as Blueprint Coordinators, etc.?

It’s like buying a home. In my town alone, there are multi-million-dollar homes and there are homes that top out at around $300,000 in price. What’s the difference? Well, the more expensive homes have nicer, waterfront or historic district locations, possibly have more amenities like pools, fancy modern kitchens, more rooms, etc. Other homes are smaller, are in different areas of a town that may be considered less desirable, and have more modest kitchens, designs, etc. and cost less. But both sets of homes still fulfill the same basic function, shelter, privacy, comfort, etc.

Would all of us like to live in the fancy houses? Of course. But most of us can’t afford that and are actually quite happy where we are. We made the decision about which home to buy based on what we need and can afford.

School districts are the same and counties like Caroline can decide what their students truly need and the system can afford. State and federal mandates get in the way of that decision.

How much to each county’s budget do the mandates add? It’s hard to tell. But Talbot County presented these additional Blueprint required positions for FY23:

According to Talbot County Public Schools documents, this along with the 4% raise this year for all certificated staff in order to phase into a Blueprint required base salary of $60,000 in 2027, is an additional staffing cost of approximately $1.4 million this year alone. (As a side note, the county employs 321 full time professionals. As of yesterday, one week before school starts, they still have 26 vacancies, some of them mandated by the Blueprint.)

By Union projections, there will be an additional 15,000 educators hired in Maryland under the Blueprint. A boon for the union. Not so good for the systems. Systems will have to find educators to fill all the extra spots and the money to pay them. Already, the state is considering relaxing the certification requirements for teachers to get more people in the hiring pipeline.

Other Blueprint mandates that will cost more money are new buildings or building upgrades for mandatory pre-k or health care facilities within school buildings and/or communities. Without these mandates, counties could assess their own needs and make fiscally justified decisions.

The best part would be that locals would have more control over their own schools, what is taught there, and how money is best spent to support student achievement. In such an environment, parents and community members will be more involved. They will also be able to talk to school boards and have a larger voice which is so important.

Maybe saying “no” like the Governor suggested would be a great idea for local governments.

What would the State and Feds do in the case that locals refused Blueprint mandates? Take them to court? It’s been done before, and it takes years to get a case through the judiciary. During that time, schools in those areas will not shut down because of lack of State and Federal funding. Families will not be left to their own devices to educate their children.

It could be the best thing that ever happens to local school systems and the students who attend them. Imagine, an education system tailoring its program to its constituents and focusing resources on academic achievement for all children. What a novel idea.

“We can be a state where our finances support our ambition,” the governor said. “We can be a state that unleashes a new wave of dynamism by harnessing the great assets we already have — and getting them moving in the same direction.”

I’m not sure he was thinking about refusing expensive Blueprint mandates when he said this, but I can see how saying “no” might unleash a new wave of dynamism by harnessing the great LOCAL assets we have- and getting them moving in the right direction. And that right direction might be locals just saying, “no” and doing a better job of educating our children without State or Federal interference.

Gov. Wes Moore urges ‘season of discipline’ for state, local spending; warns Maryland’s economy hasn’t kept pace with its ambition (

1. Funding – Blueprint ( Among ‘Most Moved From’ States In 2020, Study Says – CBS Baltimore (

**Writer’s note: Just in case you think I am delirious in my thinking that counties will ever do this, I’m not. One thing I have learned in the past three years is that NO ONE Republican or Democrat, really wants to solve the education problem or go against the tide.


2 thoughts on “Gov. Moore Warns Of Coming Financial Discipline In Maryland. Should Counties Say “No” To The Blueprint?”

  1. You will have teachers going across the bridge into Anne Arundel or to Cecil to get their 60K and a subsidized graduate degree. Parents will also find ways to go to other counties to get more more resources such as being able to graduate from high school with the first year of college credits completed through dual enrollment. The counties that can afford to become playgrounds for retirees can afford to say “no”.

    1. If counties were allowed to focus their funds on teacher salaries instead of middle management and useless, ineffective programs teachers wouldn’t leave. Also, most of the extra fluff funded has nothing to do with providing services to students, especially those with special needs. The waste is astounding and it doesn’t help kids at all.

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It Will Never Happen Here, Until It Does

By Jan Greenhawk

This article was originally published at

Creative Commons Zero, Public Domain Dedication

A federal appeals court ruled on Monday, August 14th that Montgomery County Public Schools can keep students’ gender transitions from parents.

Muslim, Catholic, and Greek Orthodox Christian parents sued the district after the Montgomery County School Board informed parents that the system would no longer notify families about gender identity plans and lessons and told parents they could NOT opt their children out of those lessons.

The weird thing is that the judge didn’t disagree with parents that this practice is wrong and a violation of parental rights. He dismissed it because the parents who sued did not have children who were transgender or using a gender support plan provided by the district, and therefore they had suffered “no harm” that would allow him to act.

Does that argument sound familiar to you? It should. It’s the same one that prevented judges from hearing President Trump’s case regarding election fraud.

Here’s the problem. If the district keeps these plans away from parents, how are the suing parents supposed to know if they have been using a plan or harmed? Do they have to wait until their children come home with new body parts, hormone treatments, or removal of vital organs?

I find the decision cowardly on the judges’ part. But then, I’m no legal expert.

Montgomery County saw this as a victory and certainly as an impetus to continue the practice of providing “gender support plans” to children since 2020- 2021. At least 350 students have taken advantage of the plans in the last three years. (Washington Post)

Frederick Claybrook Jr., lawyer for the plaintiffs, said in an interview with the Daily Caller News Foundation, ” Parents do not have to wait until they find out that damage has been done in secret before they may complain. Moreover, the policy, just by being in place affects family dynamics, as the dissenting judge pointed out. We are actively considering next steps in the legal process.”

Which leads us to the next point. Parents tell us all the time, ” It’s not happening here.” My question, based on this court decision and other events in schools is, “How do you know?”

Think about it. If schools are allowed to do anything with your child without your knowledge, how will you know if something horribly life altering such as gender transition is happening? What if it is something else? What if your child is being lured into a cult? Or a drug use? Or any other sick practice or relationship?

Many will say, ” I would know. I know my child.”

I can’t tell you how many parents told me that over my years of teaching. I can’t tell you how many of them were wrong. Some paid a horrible price for thinking they knew nothing was going on when it was.

If you think your child will tell you, you are also wrong. Most children don’t want to hurt or disappoint their parents, so they keep things from them.

That is why the schools MUST keep parents notified of major changes in a child’s life. Some will say that it is to protect children from abusive parents that schools don’t disclose all that students tell counselors and/or teachers. Again, from my experience, if a child expressed fear that a parent would abuse them for disclosures, there are official channels teachers follow to protect that child.

This is why parents must demand transparency from schools.

What can parents do? First, parents MUST have a presence in their child’s school whether it’s as a volunteer or a frequent visitor. The better a parent’s relationship with the administration and staff there, the more he/she will know about what goes on in the school.

Second, be clear with your children that you want to know what goes on in their lives, no matter how bad they think it is. Teach them from an early age that the people they can trust the most in their lives are their parents. Be consistent with being trustworthy. That doesn’t mean giving in to whims and foolish ideas but be honest with your child in an age-appropriate manner. A good relationship with your child will help you know what is going on with them. It’s not foolproof, but it works.

Know school and district policies. Don’t be caught flatfooted on what your rights are and what the school can and can’t do. Ask questions. Demand answers.

And Listen.

Talk to other parents.

One thing I have learned in my years in education is that what may not be in our school system today can and will make it here tomorrow. Montgomery County is like the California of Maryland, what starts there makes it everywhere.

You may say I am making parents paranoid. I sure hope so. This is their children. Sensible paranoia is not only recommended but required.

Parts of this story originated with the Daily Signal:

Court Says School District Can Keep Child Gender Transitions From Parents (

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Are Choudhury’s Days As State Superintendent Numbered?

By Jan Greenhawk

This article was originally published at Images, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

On Tuesday, August 22, 2023, the Maryland State Board of Education will meet to discuss whether Maryland will keep its current State Superintendent of Schools, Mohammed Choudhury or find someone more suitable to lead the State School System.

After a series of missteps including how state test results were reported and censured, his childish responses to local media asking questions, his mistreatment of state education employees, and possible violations to the Public Information Act via his redacted and hidden emails and 98 deleted texts messages from the Superintendent’s phone, it seems that Choudhury is on his way out and possibly to court.

“If someone willfully deletes a public record, it’s a crime. And they can go to jail for up to three years,” said attorney Scott Marder, “So it’s a very serious violation of the law here in Maryland if that was done.

“As anyone who has ever worked in the corporate of professional sports field will tell you, another indicator is the statement those higher up in “management” make about a person’s possible firing. Governor Wes Moore’s statement in April when interviewed by Fox 45 was telling:

“It’s an independent structure, and while we respect that, we also want to understand that we’ve got to do better when it comes to be able to present accountable and transparent results in our public education system,” Moore said. Moore’s office said, in response to an email from FOX 45 that they are “monitoring the situation” but had “no comment.

“If Choudhury was a CEO or Football Coach, he would already have his bags packed and his resumes sent.

Remember, Choudhury wasn’t hired under Moore’s administration. He was hired during Hogan’s tenure. Moore has ever justification to make the move.

For the sake of Education in Maryland, many citizens have sent letters to the State Board, signed petitions, and demanded Choudhury go. Others have said that whoever comes behind him might be worse.

I think it’s time to take that chance.

Parts of this article were taken from this link:

State School Board to soon vote on Superintendent’s future | WBFF ( THIS ARTICLE

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Back To School: Checklist For Parents

By Jan Greenhawk

This article was previously published

Creative Commons — Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported — CC BY-SA 3.0When I was a teacher, I hated the month of August. August meant leaving behind vacation and getting back to the routine of the school year. I also loved August. August meant getting ready for new students, new classes, a new school year.Now that I am retired, August is just another hot month in summer. But it is a great time to remind parents of what they should do to prepare for the next school year.

In case you are getting out your supplies lists to add items etc.; don’t. I’m not here to tell you what to buy or not buy at local stores.

This is much more important. This list of questions has to do with determining if a school or teacher are right for your family and child(ren)

Most school systems bring teachers in one to two weeks before the children start. Usually it’s a staggered start, new staff reports prior to experience staff. The early start for new teachers is to prepare them to teach in the district, covering such things as planning lessons, curriculum taught, resources used, rules, etc. They get time to prepare their classrooms, get to know other staff, and acclimate themselves to a new school and community. Experienced teachers come in later, get mandated training, and learn about any changes in district policy, new curriculum, and new administrators. They spend most of their time getting their classrooms and plans ready for their students.

I remember thinking there wasn’t enough time to get it all done.

Systems usually build into that time “Meet the Teacher” or “Back to School” nights. These events are structured as cursory events and are not conducive to one-on-one conversations with teachers or administrators. Parents should go but should not expect anything more than a chance to meet staff and hear a generic spiel about what will be taught during the year.

Parents should still attend. You can find out so much from these glimpses into the classroom. Here are some things to look for during Back To School Nights:

  1. Check out all the wall decorations/flags in the room. Are they all focused on academics? Are there flags, posters, etc. that may be of an inappropriate political/ideological nature not related to the subject(s) being taught? If so, make note.
  2. Is there a classroom library? If so, make note of the books there. Do they seem age and content appropriate? Are there whole class sets of books?
  3. Does the teacher seem professional yet approachable? Does he/she seem confident? Is the teacher appropriately dressed?
  4. Is the class well organized?
  5. Does the school seem well organized and well maintained? Are room numbers and offices clearly marked?
  6. How are the desks arranged? This may be especially important if you have a child with a learning disability who needs special seating. Even children with no disabilities can benefit from the right seat in the room.
  7. Is the staff professionally dressed? Do they act in a professional manner? Are they friendly and helpful to staff and parents? Does staff seem happy to be working in the school?

TEACHER/STAFF Conferences: I recommend you arrange a time before or right after the school year starts to meet with your child’s teacher AND the administration of the school individually.Reminders: Teachers and school administrators are not the enemy. Most of them want to do what is best for children. During this time when we hear of teachers and other school personnel doing ridiculous, harmful things in the classroom across the country, we have to remember that they are a minority.

As a parent, you need to know what your teachers and administrators will be teaching and promoting in their classroom and school. None of them should mind answering these questions, especially if they know that you are interested in helping them educate your child in the best way possible. Teachers love working with parents!

1. What are the syllabi and curricula for your class (course)? May I get a copy of it or see it online? If not, why not? How can I get access to it?

2. How can I help my child achieve in your class?

 3. What is the best way to communicate concerns or questions to you?

4. How can I monitor my child’s progress throughout the year?

5. What do you see as your primary mission as a teacher?

 For Administrators:1. What staff development and/or training did teachers participate in this summer? Who provided the training? What was the goal of the training? How do you think it will help them teach my child? Is there somewhere where I can learn about that staff development and who provided it?

2. Is it the policy of this school to hide any information (grades, counseling, behaviour, mental issues) about my child from me?

3. Can my child opt out of surveys or data collection?

4. How can my child opt out of controversial lessons I deem as inappropriate or in violation of our family’s beliefs, particularly those in Health and Sex Education? What will my child do instead if he/she opts out?

5. What is the school/district policy on flags other than the U.S., Maryland, and County Flag in the classrooms? Are individual teachers allowed to put controversial signs in their classrooms that have no academic purpose?

6. What is the policy about teachers revealing their personal political, sexual, or gender beliefs to students in or out of school? What is your social media policy for teachers, staff etc. and contact with students?

7. What is the process for addressing any issues with classes, teachers, content, books available. to my child or any other problems in school?

8. What are the discipline policies of the school? Are all students disciplined in the same way for the same infractions?

9. What can I do if I believe a teacher is not compatible or successful with my child? Can I ask for a change of teachers?

As always, use your own discretion when asking questions. However, when staff is reluctant to answer, this could be a red flag that the school/teacher may not be right for your child.

This list of questions is not all inclusive nor does it guarantee that you will get honest or accurate answers. In some schools and with some teachers, there may be negative consequences for asking these questions. Always keep a record of any conferences with a teacher or an administrator, date, time, and what was said. You may need this information.

What do you do if you don’t get answers that support sending your child to that school or having your child in that class?

The simple response is to get your child out of that class and/or school. You still are the parent and have rights. However, be prepared from pushback from the school/district. Each district has its own process and procedures for transferring students. Most would rather acquiesce to your request to change teachers or schools than cause an uproar. But, if they don’t, then be prepared to take the battle up the chain of command all the way to the school board. That’s where all that information comes into play.Be prepared for other options. That means private school or homeschooling.

It used to be a bit easier to send our children off to school each year.

But, it is a positive thing that parents now know being involved is critical!



Jan Greenhawk

Jan Greenhawk is a former teacher and school administrator for over thirty years. She has two grown children and lives with her husband in Maryland. She also spent over twenty-five years coaching/judging gymnastics and coaching women’s softball. 



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Is Local Media Colluding With Local Government To Suppress Citizen Requests For Oxford Transparency?

By Jan Greenhawk

August 11, 2023

I was always under the impression growing up that what is called the “fourth estate;” the media, reporters, newspapers, television news, had a mission to question government, dig into possible government corruption, and provide citizens with a factual account of events that affected their lives. And, when I took journalism classes I was taught to be objective and simply print the facts. You know, the old who, what, why, when and how questions.

It’s clear that has all disappeared into today’s world. On the world, national, and state level, media outlets seem more interested in carrying out the propaganda of governments and political parties. In tyrannical dictatorships, the government writes all the stories, and no one disputes what they say under the threat of punishment and even death.

At the local level, one would assume that reporters may have a little more accountability toward their subscribers. That assumption seems to be incorrect.

In our little town on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, it’s become clear in recent years that our tiny government is operating on its own agenda. The citizens have become quite angry about this and have demanded more transparency. It has happened at almost every town meeting. (Links to stories about these government actions are at the bottom of this article.)

There have been many Public Information Act requests filed with our town government in the last 6 months. It seems that this has annoyed some of our Town Commissioners and employees. It was no surprise the other night when another PIA request was read into the minutes of the town meeting. This request was based on a reliably sourced rumor regarding a possible hiring of another town employee. The filer wanted to know if the rumor was true. The filer requested all possible paperwork regarding this rumored hiring and of recent hirings in our town.

That is what Public Information Act requests are for, right? They are the avenue by which citizens can find out what is true and what is not. A PIA request demands that governments supply citizens with information. From the Maryland Attorney General’s website on PIA’s:

The Maryland Public Information Act is based on the enduring principle that
public knowledge of government activities is critical to the functioning of a
democratic society; that a Government of the people, by the people, and for the
people must be open to the people. Members of the public need and deserve complete
information as they make the decisions and form the opinions that determine our future
path, and the Act ensures that those needs are met fairly and expeditiously while protecting
important privacy rights and other public policy goals.
Overview.pdf ( reasonable, doesn’t it?

Yet governments seem threatened by it. In our town, those in charge seem to take great offense anytime they are questioned or asked for facts. When a citizen asks a simple question or files a simple request, it should be answered. That’s what the Maryland Public Information Act is for.

In our town they are so offended by a request that they enlist the support of local reporters in an attempt to embarrass and silence citizens who dare to ask questions. Here is an article written by local reporter Maggie Trovato from the STAR DEMOCRAT:

The full headline of this article is: Oxford Fights back on false rumor on secretary. ( It’s not even a good headline)The article is not listed as opinion. It is written as a straight news story. No context about the event is shared and the sources are one sided.

The interesting part about this article is that the reporter wasn’t present at the town meeting where this occurred. So, one wonders where she got her facts? Who gave her the idea to embarrass and intimidate a private citizen?

This article, printed below the fold on the front page of the hard copy newspaper, could not be found on the online site for the Star Democrat.

There was an interesting story from the meeting. It was discussion between one Commissioner, Katrina Greer and the Town Manager about the possibility of moving Oxford’s bank accounts from their current bank to the Maryland Local Government Investment Pool which, if it had been done three months ago, would have earned the town $28,000 in additional income. This story seems like one a good reporter could really sink her teeth into, finding out what the Investment Pool is, why it could earn more money and what the plusses and minuses of doing so would be. It could also provide a chance to do an investigation of WHY the Town Manager and others are against taking that action.

Somehow the reporter found the Commissioner’s comment about a PIA request regarding the rumored hiring much more interesting. Not interesting enough to actually interview all parties or get all the facts, though. Just interesting enough to meet the needs of a town government as they hope to silence citizen voices. Just enough to believe exactly what the President of the Commissioners told her.

None of us should be surprised by this. The last ten years have shown us that the mainstream media in this country has been severely compromised by political parties, foreign powers, and multi-national corporations. Even this small newspaper, the Star Democrat, is one small part of the Adams Publishing Group out of Coon Rapids, Minnesota. They own 27 dailies, 90 non-daily, and 220 media-related products across 19 states.What’s surprising is that as people have stopped relying on mainstream media and subscriptions are down because of flawed reporting, these newspapers haven’t gotten the message. Whether this reporter wrote this story because of bias, laziness or incompetence doesn’t matter. What matters is that she gave one side of a story and believed the statements of one town official blindly. And she achieved exactly what the government wanted instead of the truth. And she aided in the public suppression of PIA requests.

Richard Nixon would have loved her.

Additional Resources:

From the Federal Government: Intimidating someone from doing a Public Information Act request is illegal. According to the 18 U.S. Code § 1512, whoever knowingly uses intimidation, threatens, or corruptly persuades another person, or attempts to do so, or engages in misleading conduct toward another person, with intent to influence, delay, or prevent the testimony of any person in an official proceeding shall be punished as provided in paragraph (3). In the case of the threat of use of physical force against any person, imprisonment for not more than 20 years1.

The Greatest “Show” On Earth: Lies, Omissions, Nepotism, Conflict of Interest, and Disdain For Citizens In A Small Town – Radio Free Oxford

Oxford Commissioners: The Rubber Stamp Era Has Ended – Easton Gazette

Oxford Passes Commissioner Replacement Amendment – Easton Gazette

The Tyranny Of The Closed Public Meeting – Easton Gazette

The author of this article has written to both the reporter who wrote this story and her superiors for their comments. No responses as of publication


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